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Prayer for politicians

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4, NIV)

There is a ‘grumble gap’ in my life when it comes to politics.  I am much more likely to grumble about our political leaders than I am to pray for them.  Are you like that?

We should not be.  Rather, we are specifically urged in the Bible to pray for our political leaders.  Writing to his younger colleague Timothy, charged with leading the church in Ephesus, the Apostle Paul urges that prayers be made for kings and those in authority.

Paul says we are to pray for them with thanksgiving.  That is surprising, because governments can be very bad.  Perhaps Paul has in mind the worse alternative of anarchy.  We are pray for them with intercessions, for surely political leaders face terrible temptations, agonising decisions and heavy pressures.

Paul says the goal of such prayer is that we should live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  He may have in mind a peace in which Christians are not persecuted for living and spreading the gospel; or he may be thinking of the flourishing of wider society.

He also tells us that prayer for those in leadership pleases God, who wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.  Our God has a concern for all people, supremely expressed in His desire that the gospel be made known.

Here are some reasons why I’m tempted not to pray for politicians:

  • I don’t like some of them, or their policies.  But Paul writes in the context of the Roman empire, where many leaders were far from godly, generous or fair, and still urges prayer.
  • I am tempted to think these problems are too big for God to address.  But He is God!
  • I am concerned only for the needs of our family and church.  But Paul makes clear God is concerned for the world – and that such prayer pleases Him.

Did you know that the UK House of Commons starts every day with this prayer?

“Lord, the God of righteousness and truth, grant to our Queen and her government, to Members of Parliament and all in positions of responsibility, the guidance of your Spirit. May they never lead the nation wrongly through love of power, desire to please, or unworthy ideals but laying aside all private interests and prejudices keep in mind their responsibility to seek to improve the condition of all mankind; so may your kingdom come and your name be hallowed. Amen.” 
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